The growing desire among consumers for specially-crafted beers is creating a new niche in the world of commercial real estate, and Chicago is leading the way. That metro area’s craft beer industry had a a 65.9% growth rate between 2013 and 2014, and included 144 existing breweries and 39 others in the planning stage, making it the top craft beer market in the country, according to a new national market study by Colliers International.
Colliers analyzed 29 craft brewing markets to gauge the industry’s growing market share and its impact on cities across the US. The firm concluded that craft breweries are bringing growth to a far-flung array of metros, rather than the limited number of markets which host the large traditional breweries.
“If recent trends play out, the future is bright for craft beer and the craft brewery market,” says Michael L. Senner, senior vice president with Colliers. “In the markets we surveyed, there are more than 400 breweries in the planning stages. If all open as planned, we estimate an additional 3.1 million square feet of craft brewery inventory will be occupied, based on typical brewery sizes, boosting the already burgeoning craft beer industry.”
Furthermore, craft brewers frequently occupy repurposed industrial spaces and bring new life to buildings that might otherwise remain underused or vacant. The antiquated structures can give breweries a sense of character and may offer tax incentives through local revitalization efforts. In Chicago, for example, Argus Brewery makes its home in a century-old building that stabled the Schlitz Brewing horse teams and carriages.
In addition, although new microbreweries and brewpubs will only add modest amounts of square footage to each market, Colliers found that a number of craft breweries have transformed into regional and even national players by opening large distribution facilities. Most notably, Lagunitas Brewing Co. recently opened a 300,000 square foot facility in Chicago and California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. launched a 300,000 square foot facility in Mills River, NC.